Summer is a great time to encourage new members to join your organisation through open days or similar promotions. You may even have tried some of the tactics in our article, Seven ways your club can capitalise on the 2021 Summer of Sport.
But how can you convert your summer customers into new members once the summer season is over?
Having a strategy in place is key to making sure new joiners convert into active members. And for this, you need to keep both new and long-term members engaged with your organisation.
Not only will a strategy ensure your customers from open days and summer bookings feel connected to your club, but it’ll also have an immediate impact on your membership retention rates.
To help you create your own retention strategy, we’ve broken it down into three parts – Communication, Culture and Celebration. We’ll give you actionable, practical ways to keep your new members engaged, as well as your long-term ones.
Find out more about your members
Discovering why someone has attended an open day or joined your club can help you understand what they want from your organisation.
People have many different reasons for joining a club or organisation, so tracking this information and ensuring you deliver on it is an easy yet impactful way to engage your members.
To do this, we recommend you create a survey that asks your members to list:
- Three things they like about your organisation/sports club
- Three things they don’t like from your organisation/sports club
- The benefits/equipment/activities they enjoy the most (if applicable)
Engage with your members
Ongoing communication is an absolute must. But there’s more you can do, and it’s the efforts that go that extra mile that will make your members want to stay with your organisation.
Here are some ideas:
- Create an online and physical newsletter. Include new classes or events that might interest people. Your newsletter can be distributed by email and also be physically available at your facility for people to pick up
- Give your members benefits as part of their membership. You could give them valuable tools, templates, personalised tips, or even an app that gives them access to exclusive content and perks. In version two of the LoveAdmin platform, your members can access their own, personalised timeline. This will give them live updates on classes/sessions they’ve signed up to, news about your organisation and more
- Engage with parents too. Good communication is especially important when your members are younger and you’re talking with their parents. Make sure session/class times, updates, club news and other internal or external news are all being communicated (monthly newsletters can work well for this)
Our Parent Factor series has more tips for engaging with parents if you’re a grassroots sports club. Read part one here.
Create a positive culture
“People participate in sport to learn about themselves, better themselves, and be part of a community of like-minded people.” Clive Marquis, LoveSwimming Community Ambassador
If you’re a sports club, particularly a team sport, your athletes are likely to bond as they play. But not everything that makes a great culture is made in the pool or on the pitch. A lot of the time, it’s outside these spaces.
Athletes will make friends and meet outside of training. You can help facilitate this by organising simple things like BBQs, or team dinners during Christmas or after a big competition. This will help create community and bonds between athletes outside the training environment.
It is also good to make sure the coaches are present and spending time with members, as this is the perfect time for them to create professional bonds and connections. This in turn will help coaches be able to get more out of the athletes in training.
“When I was coaching really young kids at a young age myself, if I could walk away knowing that every kid knew my name and I was their favourite coach, I knew they’d want to come back next week.” Ellis Woods, LoveFootball Community Ambassador
Make learning a communal experience
Communal learning is a great technique to help with retention, not just athlete or personal development. By using group activities as opposed to just referring to textbooks, you can build bonds and friendships within your membership base. This positively impacts team dynamics, which also helps membership retention.
Shout about your benefits
New members sometimes join with the intention to only maintain their membership for a short period. To convert them into long-term members, highlight the benefits of your organisation from the moment they join:
- Give new members a streamlined and proactive onboarding experience. Email communications are an easy way to get personalised messages and scale them to every single member in a consistent yet personalised way. If you are looking to automate this process, you can use LoveAdmin’s membership management software
- Provide your members with a tailored road map and training programs as part of their membership. These can also be easily automated to reach out to each new member
- Allow your members to pause their membership if they need to take a break. This option will help with avoiding cancellations and keep up the retention rate.
Incentives and rewards
Initiatives keep your community engaged, especially if they’re personalised. An incentive program should form part of your overall member retention strategy.
Here are some ideas:
- Rewards programs for referrals are an effective way to harness word of mouth marketing. By offering an incentive to both parties, everyone benefits
- Birthday and holiday gifts are thoughtful tokens that your members will appreciate. They can be as simple as a free drink at your local cafe or a gift card for your shop (if you have one)
- Fitness community challenges can encourage your community to feel competitive and motivated while working out. You could also set up ongoing challenges and one-off monthly challenges with prizes to help fuel the competition
These are just a few of the possible incentives and rewards your organisation can offer to show how valuable your members are.
Don’t forget to celebrate the achievements of your members too. This can be done in person e.g. an award ceremony, or online. It’s also a great way to build a community around your club, as everyone can congratulate each other.
“We celebrate achievements via our social media – new skills, new groups, progress videos, that kind of thing. Our social media is one of our biggest draws at the moment.” Alex Row, LoveGymnastics Community Ambassador
Increasing your retention rate is an ongoing process, and a tailored strategy will help you engage with your members and encourage them to stay.
Ready to start on your retention strategy? LoveAdmin can help you with easy to use tools and automated processes – from email communications to membership renewal reminders and referral schemes. Contact us today to learn more.
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